Fourth Mate?

Out of curiosity, I was just looking at Merchant Marine officer’s insignia and noticed that the gold Navy ensign’s bar is reserved to signify the “fourth mate” in the Merchant Marine. I’ve been involved with the Merchant Marine since 2004 and yet I have [I]never heard[/I] of a fourth mate rank in the U.S. fleet. Has anybody else?

I think Polar has some tankers that sail a fourth mate. Admin duties.

Well, take it with a grain of salt. It IS a uniform company, after all. What would be the corresponding insignia for engineers, then? I do know that on international ships, especially British, that there were, or still are fourth and fifth mates (and likewise fourth and fifth engineers). I can say that on any ship that I sailed on, the official ratings seemed to stop at third assistant engineer/third mate. Hell, I sailed on an SL-7 for Sea Land, and we had more second mates/second engineers than most ships had officers.

once interviewed with Rigdon Marine…was advised that wheelhouse consisted of 1st, 2nd, 3rd captain and a lone mate…no master??that must be a real circus…would hate to be the “mate”…imagine his job was to provide the “majority vote” in the event of a dispute…or may be he was aboard to insure the toilets kept flushed…fookin “oil boat” mentality…go figure…then again these days everyone needs a title or at the very least a name tag!!

That is pretty funny to me because I have an AB, that’s been trying to get his 3rd, but he had failed 3 tests and had to start over after 90 days - real good guy. I’m always on him about studying because I don’t mind helping, but he has to initiate the help, and I give him crap because I know he can do it with just a little more effort. I made a comment to him the other day - that if the Coast Guard would come out with a 4th Mate test, maybe he can pass that one. So, I just call him my 4th Mate now. I had no idea the term even existed outside of me messing with my AB. I was going to buy him a coloring book and tell him this is the new 4th Mate test. Sooner or later he will learn this relentless pursuit will not end until he has his license.

Titanic had 7 mates, a chief officer plus 1st through 6th officer, who I guess these days you could call the 7th mate.

Until the 80’s, it was common to carry two 3rd Mates., I assume the junior of the two and/or the one standing the 8 X 12 could be called the fourth mate instead of the more common “extra third mate.”

I had to do a trip as 4th mate before I could work as 3rd, this is on a norwegian flagged LNG. Basically it was cadet part deux. They also do the same with 4th engineers.

Fourth mate exists on some foreign flag ships. You’ll see them on cruise ships in particular. I think long ago- pre WWII we had fourth mates on American flagged ships as well. Now the fourth mate is usually a know it all AB or deck hand. The type of guy the other hands don’t like because he thinks he’s in charge of something.